God has blessed us at Highlands with a rich history. We are thankful for those who laid the foundation as we strive to move forward into the future. Highlands was founded to be a church that serves God and loves its community. It is this purpose that drives us forward as we seek to love, serve, and grow every day.
Highlands Church of Christ was formed in June of 1978 when thirteen families from the South Florida Ave. Church of Christ met for worship at Scott Lake Elementary School in Lakeland, Florida. The 13 families plus their children resulted in an attendance of 55 people. Today, four of the original thirteen families still worship at Highlands.
The church was formally incorporated by the State of Florida in October of 1978 and was certified as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1986.
Ron Hasten and Dorsey Hightower were selected and appointed to serve the congregation as the first shepherds. Ron Hasten served as a part-time minister until June, 1981 when Ronnie Norman was hired to serve as the full-time minister. Through the years several men have served as ministers at Highlands. The longer serving ministers have been Larry Sawyer (7 Years) and Randal Myers (15 Years). A Youth Minister was added in October of 1994 and a part-time Children's Ministry Coordinator was added in January of 2008. Several different members have served Highlands as secretary.
The church purchased property on Lakeland Highlands Road (our current location) on which to build a worship and classroom center. The building was completed on August 3rd, 1980. The building could accommodate over 200 people in worship. For several years the church had a child-care and pre-school center for working parents. This work was a form of outreach to the community and had a positive impact on those using this service as well as those who worked in the school.
The original building burned after being vandalized on October 29th, 1981. A new, larger building with more classrooms and offices was erected on the same site. This expanded facility could comfortably handle more than 350 people in worship.
The campus was expanded in 2008 with the addition of the Family Life Center. This multi-purpose building featured additional classroom space, a youth ministry center, and a full-sized basketball court.
Highlands was formed to serve the fast-growing southeast area of Lakeland and to provide an atmosphere for members to grow spiritually and raise their children who would develop faith in God / Christ and grow into young Christians and productive members of society.
Highlands has been, from its beginning, very interested in supporting good works, especially works that involve outreach with the gospel and children. As a result Highlands has financially supported many works including the Christian Home and Bible School (Mt. Dora, FL), Central Florida Bible Camp (Eustis, FL), Christian Family Services (Gainesville, FL), and Churches of Christ Disaster Relief. In addition to these works, Highlands has been heavily involved in mission work in Honduras with Torch Missions and in Africa with Dorian Flynn and Partners4Africa. Annual mission trips are taken to Honduras for onsite service work, worship, and teaching.